HAve you ever been here? Where there’s just too much in your mind all at the same time and you don’t know where to start, or what to work on next. I am there right now. Project overload. My brain is overwhelmed. My house is a disaster, I’m behind on blog posts, I’ve got three crochet projects in mid-completion, with another 3 that need to get done sooner rather than later, there are school programs, PTO duties, we are going out of town in a couple of weeks, Mr. Lovely’s birthday party which is also doubling as a halloween party, and I am so behind on laundry it is ridiculous. And this doesn’t even take into account the normal every day activities, like helping the kids with homework, daily bible readings, weekly bible lessons (I teach Wednesday evening bible classes, and participate in a Monday morning lady’s study), cleaning the kitchen at least twice a day, preparing food for all of my Little’s to eat…yeah, they need to eat too,. And I’ve been in such an artistic rut the last two weeks that I’ve literally been flitting from one crochet project to the next without really accomplishing much on any of them. So, I am sitting down and I am making a plan, and you get to be privy to my plan, because I guarantee you this is a universal plan that will get you through your project overload as well!
- Write it all out. Get a planner, use a calendar, or just grab some notebook paper, and write out your to-do list. Don’t use a digital app, or editable download…I know it’s “easy” and tempting, but you need to write it down on physical paper with a pen (or I like to use crayola markers, lots of colors make me happy). A digital copy of your to-do list is way too easy to close out of and forget. Yeah, your calendar app is able to send you notifications, but be honest with yourself here, how often do you just click on it to make it go away without every accomplishing what you were suppose to? I do that way more often than I care to admit. Write it down on paper.
- Include daily tasks and calendar events. I don’t like to do it, but if I don’t then it is all to easy for me to forget entirely. Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled for Monday morning, and that is time that I will not have to work on something else. Write it down on the list, plan around it accordingly.
- Prioritize. Some projects are going to be time-sensitive, and others are not. For example, I’ve got a Halloween costume for a customer that is right smack at the top of my list. It needs to get done as soon as possible, so that I can mail it off, and make sure that she is going to get it in plenty of time for her precious little trick-or-treater. Making a Harry Potter themed baby gift for my dear friend is not a huge priority right now, he only JUST announced that he is expecting twins. But, it is a quick project that will take an afternoon, maybe two, and those kind of projects can be a nice break, and rewarding to cross off the to-do list. Crocheting some fingerless gloves for myself, though, that can get put way at the bottom of the list…I don’t NEED fingerless gloves. I’ve survived the past 7 years in the bitter winters of West Texas without them, one more isn’t going to cause frostbite so severe that I lose my fingers. Laundry is only sort of important, BUT, it can get accomplished in between the other tasks, I can throw a load of laundry in, and while it’s washing I can get the floor ready for my Roomba, or work on a project, or any other item on my to-do list.
- Get dressed. Very seldom do I go through my day in my yoga pants (I.e. my pajamas). Getting dressed will create a productive mentality, and you will be ready to get done what you need to. Even on those days when I don’t “get dressed”, I do still put on appropriate undergarments and my shoes. It makes a noticeable difference.
- Keep to your daily schedule and routine as much as possible. I have a very predictable routine now that all of my kids are in school: wake up at 6:00, eat breakfast, help the kids get ready, take them to school, get myself dressed, clean the house and run errands, fix lunch for me and Mr. Lovely, sit down to work on my business, pick them up from school, help them with homework while working on dinner, eat dinner, spend some time with my family (or other evening event), get the kids ready for bed, and then I get a few hours to work on my business some more, before I start crashing at 9:30. When I am feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to get accomplished, it is important that I keep to this routine as much as I possibly can. This helps so much with the overall stress of my life (and in direct correlation, the rest of my family can run smoothly and stress-free as well). Sometimes, the urge to just sit down and crochet the day away is very strong, but it require self-discipline to keep on task and get life situated properly. I can work on my Crochet much more efficiently if my surroundings are clean, organized, and fresh-smelling.
- Mark things off of your list. As you are able to, “get ‘er done!” Start at the top of your list, because you already prioritized what was most important, and start crossing them off as you get them accomplished. It is so very satisfying to be able to visually see what you have gotten done in the course of the day, or week. And maybe you need to add some stuff to the list, or change the order around, and that’s ok. Draw arrows, change numbers, scratch it up however you need to. There’s an art-form in there, as well. If it becomes too illegible, rewrite another clean and fresh one. No shame in that.
- Unwind. This point cannot be stressed enough (pun unintended). In order to keep your stress levels under control, and optimize your own efficiency, it is important for you to take some time to decompress. Twenty minutes. Take a walk outside, draw up a hot bubble bath, enjoy a nap, journal. Spend twenty minutes doing something therapeutic for yourself. When it’s done, take a deep breath, and get back to work feeling rejuvenated and refreshed!
- Feel accomplished and unstressed. You got it all done. Looking back, you may not be sure HOW you got it all done, but you did. Take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back, and take the next day or two “off”.
This is how I have handled “project overload” in the past, and I’ve been very successful at keeping my productivity high and my stress levels low. A question that I pose to my children often (that they’ve grown to hate) is, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is “one bite at a time”. You can only be in one place at a time, Do one thing at a time…so, make the most of the time that you have available. What sort of routine do you use to manage those feelings of overwhelm?